10 Essential Travel Items You Forgot to Pack

by Deia B on 11 April 2014 (5 comments)

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You know you should pack clothes, toiletries and chargers when you travel. Other travel essentials are less obvious, but just as important. Simply having the right items can help drive down your travel costs and keep you comfortable.

1. Solid Toiletries

The TSA has strict limits on the amount of liquids you can bring with you, so every little thing helps. Savvy manufacturers recognize this, and now it’s not just soaps that come in bars. You can replace your liquid shampoo and even toothpaste with solid versions.

2. Contact Lens Cases

For short trips, you may not need to buy travel-sized toiletries and makeup products. If you already wear contact lenses, you probably have contact lens cases lying around that you can use to store small amounts of creams and gels. By bringing only as much as you need, you’ll be reducing your luggage load and leaving room for any liquid items you purchase during the trip.

3. Skype on Your Phone

Before you leave home, download Skype and add your family and friends to your contact list. This can save you a fortune. You may already know that Skype allows you to make online calls to other Skype users for free. But when you’re traveling, you’ll have to call a lot of people who are not Skype users. This is when Skype Credit comes in handy. Skype Credit gives you the freedom to call any mobiles and landlines around the world at very low rates, regardless of whether the other person is also a Skype user.

I also personally have a Skype number (which can be purchased with Skype Credit). Skype number gives me one phone number where everyone can reach me, wherever I happen to be. When people call this number, the call is forwarded to a phone or device of my choice. This is great for keeping things simple when I’m travelling. When you’re traveling abroad for a long time, you can get a Skype Number with a local US area code, which will allow your friends and family back home to call you without having to pay international rates.

4. Spare Buttons

You know those spare buttons you get when you buy shirts and jackets? I have a whole box of them and have probably only used two in years.

Put those buttons to good use next time you travel. If you have stud earrings, stick them through the buttonholes. This way, every pair of earrings is always together. Also, who knows? You might lose a button after all.

5. Pill Containers

The pill containers you see at the drugstore are not just for medication. You can use a pill container to store jewelry so your necklaces stay untangled and your earrings are always in pairs. Think of all the time you’d save from not having to rummage through the entire bag to find small pieces of jewelry.

If you plan to cook during the trip, the pill container is also great for storing small amounts of herbs and spices.

6. Pen and Paper

Now that everybody has a smartphone, it seems like the old pen and paper are obsolete. But clear a little space for a pen and a paper notebook on your next trip. They’re not just good for writing a journal or filling out custom forms.

Sometimes when you travel, you can’t get cell phone coverage or you might not want to spend a fortune on roaming fees. A pen and some paper then come in handy for relaying messages to the hotel staff and your travel companions. They’re also great for getting directions and language tips from locals. You won’t have to hand over your smartphone to a tuk-tuk driver to let him know where you’re going.

7. Portable Travel Clothesline

Don’t pay a small fortune for the hotel’s laundry service next time you run out of clothes when traveling. If you wash your clothes by hand in the sink, you clean them for free and they’ll last longer, too. To fully turn the bathroom into a makeshift laundry room, all you need is a portable travel clothesline.

8. A Sleep Sheet and a Pillowcase

Many budget hotels don’t invest too much money in cleaning the bedding. Some hostels even charge an extra fee if you want a blanket. For a budget traveler who spends a lot of time at hostels and overnight buses, a travel sleep sheet and a pillowcase are essentials. They’re also great if you have sensitive skin and get allergic reactions to the laundry detergents hotels use.

9. Plastic Bags

You can never bring too many plastic bags when you travel. When I pack before a trip, I place my shoes and all liquids in plastic bags. If anything leaks in transit, it won’t flood the whole bag and ruin my gadgets.

Before going home, I put all dirty clothes in plastic bags to separate them from clean items. This way, I don’t have to separate the clothes when I get home. I can simply throw all the dirty clothes from the plastic bags into the washing machine.

10. Baby Wipes

When you travel, you may not have access to the sanitary facilities you usually take for granted. This is why baby wipes should be in your bag. You can use them to clean your hands before meals. And in some countries where the restrooms don’t usually have toilet paper, baby wipes can be a good replacement. Baby wipes can even help you maintain a basic level of cleanliness when you can’t take a shower, for example when you’re camping or on a flight.

Sponsored by Skype — Use Skype Credit to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.

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Guest's picture

I almost always forget to add a charging cable for one of my devices, drives me up the wall.

Deia B's picture
Deia B

You can often borrow chargers from the hotel reception. They usually have a bunch of chargers that previous guests left behind!

Guest's picture

Tweezers and nail clippers are helpful for various things. I also bring band aids, vitamins, granola bars, an empty water bottle. Sometimes I bring a set of durable plastic utensils.

Guest's picture

Thanks for these tips. I travel every year, I struggle with carry-ons.. way too heavy for me but at least I got the essentials. Like the miniature versions (travel versions) a lot but expensive. I watched in Youtube, you can put your cables and chargers (at least for phones) in a sunglasses case... great idea! :)

Guest's picture

If you are travelling with other friends or family, taking a powerboard (multiple power sockets) means you only need one power adaptor and everyone can charge their phones, etc at the same time!"